The Cavalier Project

Photos and writeup by Trevor Freeman.

1995 Cavalier Sedan, pictured January 2004 JANUARY 2004: HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
My very first car was a 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier, base model sedan with the 2.2L engine. She was only about nine years old at the time, but had been something of a troublemaker for the family since we bought her in 1996. A carfax report had given some insight to her past as a rental car in Texas for the first year. Ah yes, that explains the cigarette burn in the headliner and the broken rear seatbelt that have always been there.

She was my high school graduation present, since all of my hard work earned me a college scholarship. The best things in life are not free however, because with the amount of money I would spend on fixes and repairs in the coming years I could have purchased the same car three times over.

Within the first month of getting my Cavalier, I was already working on fixing it up. One of the first things I did was to upgrade the factory stereo to one with a CD player and install some better speakers. I went with two Pioneer 6.5 inch, 100 watt speakers in the doors and two Pioneer 6x9 inch, 120 watt speakers in the rear dash.
The factory 4x6 speakers. February 2004. The new Pioneer 6-inch speakers. February 2004.

These speakers aren't going to win any competitions, but they sure sound better than the original ones.
The factory 6x9 speakers. February 2004. The new Pioneer 6x9 speakers. February 2004.

I did not want to spend a lot of money on a fancy headunit that would get stolen in a couple of months, so I picked up a factory CD player online and have been enjoying it for over a year now with no problems.
The old AM/FM radio. February 2004. The new AM/FM/CD radio. February 2004.

Next, I followed some directions I found online for removing the side moldings on the doors. They are held on with very strong adhesive tape and also looked really goofy on my nice white car. I love the nice clean look this gives the car.
Car with side moldings. February 2004. Car without side moldings. February 2004.

When August came around I decided to remove the plastic trim pieces in each of the door jams. This also contributed to the clean look of the car when entering and exiting the vehicle. At the time I was also using some homemade floor mats I had made from an old piece of carpet.
Car with door trim. August 2004. Car without door trim. August 2004.

Planning ahead for the future, I picked up a factory fog light switch from a Cavalier Z24 and swapped out my boring old dimmer switch. At this point the switch is not connected to anything.
Boring old dimmer switch. August 2004. Cool new dimmer switch. August 2004.

The next purchase was a motor mount insert from and that really helped to keep the engine from thrashing around so much. I also got a K&N air filter and removed the intake silencer in the wheel well for better airflow. The strut tower brace is made by GM and it was only standard on convertible Cavaliers. I got mine for free with a gift certificate our local Chevy dealer gave us.
CarCustoms upper motor mount insert. September 2004. Strut tower brace. September 2004.

After that, I came across a gauge cluster on eBay that had a factory tachometer and decided to do a gauge swap. I had a local shop roll the odometer forward to match my car's correct mileage. The donor gauges came from a 1996 model and it was a simple plug and play installation.
The old gauges. November 2004. The new gauges. November 2004.

By this time, several months had passed and I was wondering whether or not to dump any more money into this wheezy old Cavalier or try and get another car. I settled my decision by spending $200 on a set of used Z24 wheels.
Z24 wheels. December 2004. Z24 wheel. December 2004.

Please continue to page two for more pictures and modifications.